On Friday, two massive storms -- Hurricane Florence and Typhoon Mangkhut -- made devastating landfall on opposite ends the world, but are leaving behind destruction in different ways. For Florence, it was mainly a rain event in the Carolinas. For Mangkhut, it was the wind that devastated the Philippines on Friday/Saturday, and now wreaking havoc in Hong Kong and southern China on Sunday (scroll down for videos).
"Storms forming in the western Pacific tend to hit with much higher winds and the people who live in their path are often poorer and more vulnerable," said Gabriel Vecchi, a Princeton University hurricane and climate scientist.
Mangkhut made landfall Friday on the northeastern part of Luzon island in the Philippines with sustained winds of 165 mph. Florence had been degraded to a Category 1 storm with 90 mph winds as it approached North Carolina’s coast.
One day after landfall, Mangkhut was over the open water — weakened but headed across the South China Sea toward China. Florence, meanwhile, unleashed record-setting rain on parts of the North Carolina coastline. Many regions in southeastern North Carolina have seen 15 to 30 inches of rain.
Weather experts say Mangkhut may end up being the deadlier storm.
Hong Kong and southern China braced for impact on early Sunday as damaging winds and heavy rain from Mangkhut collided with the densely populated coast, a day after officials confirmed 49 people dead on Luzon island.
Al Jazeera said approximately half a million people had been evacuated from seven major cities in Guangdong province of China, and the Hong Kong Observatory, a local newspaper, warned people to stay away from the coastline as massive waves and storm surges wiped out structures.
Mangkhut made landfall in Guangdong, a coastal province of southeast China, borders Hong Kong and Macau, on Sunday, packing wind speeds of more than 100 mph.
The national meteorological center said southern China "will face a severe test caused by wind and rain" and urged officials to prepare for a disaster.
The Hong Kong Observatory said Mangkhut had weakened, but its intense rainbands brought heavy downfall and high winds.
Bloomberg said 900 flights were canceled in Hong Kong on Sunday due to the typhoon, while bus and ferry services, as well as high-speed train service to the airport, had been suspended.
Hong Kong and Macau announced a rare No. 10 typhoon warning signal, the highest level on the weather threat system, as the storm battered the region on Sunday. CGTN reported that Macau’s main attraction, local casinos, were ordered by the government to close for the first time in history.
Incredible footage of the storm surfaced on social media showing fierce winds throwing people to the ground, swaying buildings, smashed windows and severe flooding.
“It swayed for quite a long time, at least two hours. It made me feel so dizzy,” said Elaine Wong, who lives in a high-rise tower in Kowloon.
“It’s the worst I’ve seen,” resident Martin Wong told Reuters. “I’ve not seen the roads flood like this, (and) the windows shake like this, before.”
Twitter user Jen Zhu tweeted: "When the warning says stay inside, stay inside."
The amount of footage circulating on social media is impressive. Some videos show destructive winds tearing off roofs and parts of buildings in Hong Kong and nearby areas. Hong Kong is basically shut down, and in Shenzhen, some 12 or so miles away, several small buildings were swept away.
Downtown Hong Kong on early Sunday looked like a scene from an apocalyptic movie.
Massive twister spotted somewhere in Hong Kong
The damage is unreal
Huge cranes came tumbling down from the sky and windows got blown off buildings as #Typhoon #Mangkhut continued on its path of destruction in #HongKong. https://t.co/QmsE437Qxg pic.twitter.com/cDWIxz7nro— SCMP News (@SCMPNews) September 16, 2018
The typhoon, dubbed the “King of Storms” by Chinese media, shut down ports, oil refineries and industrial plants in the region. Government officials had reduced power on the grid as a precaution. In Shenzhen, electricity supply to more than 130,000 homes was cut on Sunday.
Further inland, the storm fueled concerns about sugar production in Guangdong, which accounts for about 10 percent of national output. China sugar futures jumped last week on worries for the cane crop could get wiped out. The region is also China’s most populated province, with a population of more than 100 million.
The Shenzhen airport, shut since Saturday, will be closed on Monday. Flights have also been canceled in Guangzhou and the island of Hainan, China’s southernmost province.
Bloomberg showed scenes of crashing waves, innundated streets and trees half-bent by the strong winds as Mangkhut unleashed hell.
As one Twitter user summed up the disasters, Keynesians are going to have a field day with the next round of credit injections for storm-struck regions in Hong Kong, China, and the US. Paul Krugman could not have been happier with the developments at play...